Tiny Wisdom: The Joy of Non-Events

“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!” -Amanda Bradley

In Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll coined the term “un-birthday,” which means exactly what you might expect—a day you celebrate that isn’t actually your birthday. You might not feel inclined to send out Evites and buy a helium tank in honor of a non-milestone, but there’s something to this idea.

We often live life waiting for reasons to get excited. We save the good china for special occasions, reserve fancy clothes for yet-to-be-determined big events, and generally wait for moments that will justify festivity. Then when we reach those events, the act of planning—making sure everything is perfect, and everyone is happy—can create more stress than joy.

Conventional wisdom suggests you should live every day like your last, but maybe that isn’t the answer either. If it were your last, you might quit your job, drain your savings account, and take dangerous risks because you’d have no reason to be cautious.

Perhaps a better suggestion is to treat every day as a new opportunity to be happy–a new selection of moments when you can smile, enjoy the little things, and find reasons to rejoice. Not because your time is almost up, but simply because it feels good. And why not feel good right now?

Celebrate something today. Anything! Did you parallel park really well after work? Bust out the champagne! Did your daughter say please and thank you? You’re an awesome parent with a gifted child—write it on a cake! Did your roommate or significant other do a great job cleaning? What better reason to grab a big bouquet of flowers?

We don’t need a calendar to tell us which days are special and extraordinary. We just need the willingness to recognize the special in the ordinary.

*This is an updated version of a post from 2009. Photo by charness.

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • This is so inspiring!!

  • Hi Lori — Love this post. You’ve hit on some of the key barriers so many of us set up between  ourselves and experiencing wonder.
    Somewhere between living each day as if it were your last, and living each as if it were your FIRST, lies the joyous confluence of wonder and gratitude.
    BTW — as you always ask us — what are you celebrating today?

  • Vianey

    This is fantastic, thank you!

  • ccrow

    When giving birthday gifts to my grandkids, I also give a small ‘unbirthday’ gift to their sibling(s). I didn’t realize I stole the word from Lewis Carroll!

  • Donald Quarles

    Reading this post today was one new ‘moment to make me smile.’  LOVE IT!

  • Judson Brehmer

    I like it.  When I was studying in the Netherlands long ago — before the days of Facebook — I had so many people wish me a happy day on my birthday, it really made me feel like it was MY day.  I told my friend Lisa that I thought it was a shame that we really only voice this “happy day” wish for our friends a couple of days a year on birthdays and holidays.  Lisa and I live in different places now, about a dozen years later, but still to this day, whenever we talk we signoff with “Happy YOUR Day!” 🙂

  • Thanks for asking Jeffrey! Today I celebrated catching a stuffed baseball at the taping for the Jay Leno show. I was in the audience to the far left. It was a fantastic show! Jane Lynch was one of the guests, and I found out she has a book coming out called “Happy Accidents,” which sounds really empowering. I guess there was a lot to celebrate today. =) What about you? What did you celebrate?

  • I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • You are most welcome! =)

  • I always loved when relatives did that when I was a kid. Such a thoughtful thing to do. =)

  • I love that! What a great idea. I’ve done that with my boyfriend–established “all about you” days, when we only do things he wants to do. 

  • Marcia

    Thanks so much — I needed this reminder!
    In our family sometimes we do half-birthdays just for fun, but like you say, why not break out the fancy duds and special dishes more often?!